Bisley, a parish in Surrey, near the Basingstoke Canal, with a station on the L.&S.W.R., 3½ miles NW of Woking, which is the post town. The parish comprises 922 acres; population, 732. A boys' refuge farm-school, connected with a farm of 88 acres, was built in 1869 at a cost of about £6000. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Winchester; net value, £146 with residence. The church is ancient, and was restored in 1873. The peculiar wood bell-cot contains the second oldest bell in Surrey. The camp of the National Rifle Association here was opened on 12 July, 1890, by the Prince and Princess of Wales. From the year 1860 the annual gatherings of the Association had been held at Wimbledon, but on the adoption of the army service rifle it was necessary to obtain ranges of an increased extent, and Bisley was eventually chosen as being the most suitable position available. The Guards' camp at Pirbright and the great military centre at Aldershot are within easy distance of the new ground. The pre-existing ledges, trees, and bushes have been as far possible preserved, so that the camp lies in a kind of leafy seclusion, contrasting agreeably with the glaring whiteness and bare appearance which distinguished the Wimbledon site. The annual meetings are usually held during the last two weeks of July. The principal prizes fired for are the Queen's, the Prince of Wales's, the Chancellor's Plate, the Ashburton Challenge Shield, the Eleho Challenge Shield, and the National Challenge Trophy. Bisley Common is part of the Bagshot Heath District.
The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.
|Ecclesiastical parish||Bisley St. John the Baptist|
|Poor Law union||Chertsey|
Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.
The register dates from the year 1561.
Ancestry.co.uk, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.
Church of England
St. John the Baptist (parish church)
The church of St. John the Baptist is a stone building of the 12th century, in the Early English style, and has & bell-cot over the west entrance, containing 3 bells; in 1873 the church was enlarged and restored; at the east end is a memorial window: in 1899 the churchyard was enlarged, the ground for the purpose being given by the rector, Rev. John Gwyon; there are 150 sittings.
Directories & Gazetteers
We have transcribed the entry for Bisley from the following:
- Samuel Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England, 1848 (Bisley (St. John the Baptist))
At Bisley is the Princess Christian's (Brookwood) Home and workshops for disabled soldiers and sailors, consisting of five large blocks of buildings and about 16 acres of land, with accommodation for 60 men.
Land and Property
The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.
Online maps of Bisley are available from a number of sites:
- Bing (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- Google Streetview.
- National Library of Scotland. (Old maps)
- old-maps.co.uk (Old Ordnance Survey maps to buy).
- Streetmap.co.uk (Current Ordnance Survey maps).
- A Vision of Britain through Time. (Old maps)
Newspapers and Periodicals
The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:
The Bisley Refuge Farm School, erected in 1868, was for the reception of 150 homeless and destitute boys; the estate comprised about 120 acres; the boys were taught various useful trades.
The Shaftesbury School, an addition, was erected in 1873, also for 150 boys, and a chapel, seating 400, was built in 1874. There was a bungalow hospital for the boys of these schools, erected in 1896, for 12 patients. Four cottages facing the village green were erected during 1893 in memory of the late William Williams, founder of the National Refuges, for the use of the officers of the schools.
The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.